Fort Wayne, IN – On July 26, 1990 a piece of civil rights legislation changed the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 40,000 residents of northeast Indiana with disabilities have access to employment, educational opportunities, public transportation, and a variety of public services.
Be it an intellectual or physical disability acquired at birth, or due to an accident, illness or the aging process, the number of individuals with disabilities has steadily increased making the disability population the largest minority group in the United States.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was more than 25 years in the making, but during this time the disability community was developing its own identity and attracting widespread attention and support. In 2008, the Northeast Indiana Disability Advocacy Coalition (NEIDAC) was created to foster greater awareness and education about the tremendous contributions and accomplishments individuals with disabilities are making every day through activities such as:
• Political forums on disability issues and policy for federal, state and local candidates;
• Annual community event, Abilities Abound, to celebrate March as Disability Awareness Month and award competitive $1,000 grants for post-secondary activities to individuals with disabilities;
• Voter Education Project to engage individuals with disabilities, service providers, friends and family in the election process.
On the ADA’s 20th anniversary, NEIDAC issued a report card indicating that at best, northeast Indiana averages a C- in accessibility, transportation, ADA enforcement and employment opportunities. In three years we celebrate the ADA’s 25th anniversary. We have come a long way but there is much work to be done to ensure equality for everyone with disabilities.
The Northeast Indiana Disability Advocacy Coalition is a consortium of 14 disability organizations in Northeast Indiana. The Coalition’s mission is to be a common voice and to advocate for equal opportunities on behalf of the disability community. The Coalition engages in a variety of programs and events designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities, including voter registration drives and educational and self-improvement grants.
The NEIDAC member organizations are: Aging and In Home Services, AWS Foundation, Children’s Autism Center, Community Transportation Network (CTN), Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana (DSANI), Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana, Encourage, Empower & Enjoy the Autism Spectrum, Family Voices Indiana, Fifth Freedom, Goodwill Industries of NE Indiana, The League for the Blind and Disabled, Passages, Pathfinder Services and Turnstone.